Cambodia preparing for ASEAN Economic Community, but more to be done: ADB

Source:Xinhua Published: 2014-4-23 14:18:28

Cambodia is making full preparation for the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by end 2015, but needs to step up reforms to improve the transparency and reliability of its regulatory systems to encourage more investment, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Wednesday.

Addressing corruption and anti-competitive practices must also be a priority in Cambodia, as in many other countries, according to the findings and recommendations in "ASEAN Economic Community: A Work in Progress," a book produced by ADB in collaboration with the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies.

"Cambodia is doing well with preparations for the AEC because it has always been an open and outward-looking economy, but it needs to catch up with the implementation of ASEAN e-customs, the National Single Window, and the ASEAN Single Window border procedures," Jayant Menon, a co-editor of the book and lead economist at ADB, said at the book launching.

The book examines the main challenges facing Cambodia and other members of ASEAN in realizing the AEC, and ways to overcome these challenges.

"A key message of the study is that the target date of 2015 should not be viewed as a hard deadline but rather a milestone in a much longer journey," Jayant said. "ASEAN's own scorecards point to the fact that the AEC will not be realized by its self-imposed deadlines, even though a lot of progress will have been made."

According to AEC scorecard, only around 77.5 percent of the AEC targets have been reached as of March 2013, he said.

Of critical importance is the need to continue work beyond 2015, and agreements that have been signed before and after this date must be ratified and implemented legitimately, according to the book.

The book said in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the AEC, Cambodia needs to invest more in education and health.

"Apart from directly reducing social and asset inequities, this will produce a workforce more able to actively participate in the growth process and adapt to structural changes that result directly from the AEC," it said.

It also recommended that to lessen its reliance on garments, and to enhance trade ties with ASEAN countries, Cambodia will have to diversify its export commodity base, particularly agricultural products, tourism and modern services.

Speaking at the book launching, Pan Sorasak, Cambodian secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, acknowledged that Cambodia and some ASEAN countries alike are not ready for the AEC at the end of 2015, and they need to continue work beyond 2015.

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) group Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The bloc determines Dec. 31, 2015 for the realization of the AEC, which will be a region of free flows of goods, services, skilled labor, capital and investment.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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